|Important Items in this Area|
After some chatter, Cloud will regain consciousness and shake off his epic fall, having fallen into the garden (inside a church) of the flower girl he met after the No. 1 Reactor bombing. After the dubious explanation of how, exactly, Cloud is still alive, he’ll chat with the flower girl. When she gets distracted by her garden, talk to her again and respond however you wish. Surprisingly nothing you say here affects any approval ratings. Eventually she’ll start talking about Materia, and Cloud assumes (correctly) that she just doesn’t know how to use it. When she gets distracted for a second time, talk to her yet again and you’ll get to name her. She’ll be referred to by the default name Aeris.
Did You Know?: Apparently Aeris is a mistranslation; her real name is supposed to be "Aerith". That’s fine, but on the original PS1 version of the game and both PC versions, she is Aeris, so Aeris she will remain for the purposes of this guide. She can be Aerith all she wants in Crisis Core, Advent Children, and the Final Fantasy VII Remake.
As you continue to talk an unkempt man in a disheveled suit will show up and will be shortly noticed by the two. Head towards him, then when Aeris comments, backtrack and talk to her. She’ll ask you if you want to pick up a new job and set the price, after which Cloud finally interacts with the other uninvited visitor. When some backup is called, it becomes obvious that you all aren’t going to be friends, and Aeris will call for you to delay the hostilities to avoid damaging the flowers.
Cloud and Aeris will make a run for it, and when you’re back in control, head north-east to make a herculean leap to the base of a dilapidated stair-case. Head upstairs and around the walkway, then after some more chatter Cloud will make another suspiciously long leap, which Aeris can’t emulate this time, for some reason.
Once you two are separated, you’ll get to give Aeris some instructions. Tell her to hold position, then head up the ladder nearby to reach the rafters, where four barrels are perched. If you push the correct barrel, one of the enemies will be thwarted (painfully) in their pursuit, and Aeris’ approval towards you will rise (Aeries +1). If you push the wrong barrel (Aeris -3), tell her to fight (Aeris -1), or she has to fight after you tell her to run (Aeris -1), you’ll lose approval. Taking too long to do anything will also result in a fight.
If you want to get through this without having to actually fight (aside from random encounters, of course), push the western-most barrel first (1), then the northern-most barrel (2), and finally the eastern-most barrel (3), telling her to "Hold on a minute" each time she calls for you. On the other hand, if you want to get that lovely "Best Bromance" trophy, you’ll want to do the opposite; tell Aeris to "Hold on a minute" every time then intentionally push the wrong barrels each time; starting with the eastern-most (3), then the western-most (1) and finally the northern-most (2) barrels.
Dispatch the guards one way or another and Aeris will easily make the jump she balked at earlier and join you on the rafters. From here, just make your way through the hole in the roof to escape.
Note: Aeris is, by default, in the back row, a position well-suited to a character who is primarily a healer. Still, there’s not much reason to keep her there, especially if you want to develop her Limits in any sort of timely manner.
Best Bromance: This is a great opportunity to tank Aeris’s affection for Cloud, and you’ll need to make the most of these… even if you have to gain favor with Tifa to do it. Aeris has by far the highest starting disposition towards Cloud (Aeris: 50, Tifa: 30, Barret: 0), so you’ll need to work to reverse these trends. Every barrel you push incorrectly will reduce her disposition (Aeris -3) and saying "Yeah, that’s right" when asked if Tifa is your girlfriend will reduce her disposition further (Aeris -5). That’s a whopping -17 disposition right there. A good start towards a bromance, indeed.
Sector 5 Slums
After hanging out on the roof for a while (wow, that place sure looks bigger on the inside, eh?) to shake pursuit, the two will leave, picking their way across the debris, stopping only long enough to banter a bit. Once you’re back on level ground, head north-west to find a Save Point, then continue north-west to the next screen. Continue north-west until you spot some yellow light along the top of the screen which marks yet another area transition. Since the way to Sector 6 is blocked by two inconveniently (and for some reason, immovable) guys, you might as well head north.
There are a number of things to do here but mostly shopping. If you head into a nearby pipe, you’ll encounter a sick man with a #2 tattoo. More immediately interesting is the shop to the south-east, which sells more of the same Materia you had access to earlier. If you’ve got the cash, consider stocking up on whatever you’re lacking, the goal being three Restore Materia, three Fire Materia, and three Lightning Materia. Further east is an item shop, which sells little of interest.
Did You Know (Spoilers)?: Back in the day, the man in the pipe was subject to a lot of silly speculation and fan fiction. The rumors that stood out was the idea that he was a character named "Zack" which was decisively disproved by the prequel, Crisis Core. Another myth was that he was part of some elaborate quest to obtain some Underwater Materia (which actually exists) which would, after more shenanigans, allow you to revive a certain character later which is bogus. There was also some translation errors in the original dialogue, notably "This guy are sick", which were fixed for the PC version.
Head into the house west of the item shop, and head into the back room. Talk to a kid sleeping on the bed, then search the nearby dresser and search the drawer hidden between the top and bottom drawers, within which is 5 Gil. Leave it, and you’ll reap the rewards later. Before you leave, be sure to search the yellow posters on the wall north-west of the dresser to find Turtle’s Paradise News No. 1 , which is part of a quest you’ll find much, much later on. Reading this now prevents you from having to backtrack later, so be sure to do so.
Leave the house and head into a bus to the north-west, which serves as the weapons shop for these slums. Talk to the rotund man in the red shirt to peruse his wares - his meager, meager wares. If you’ve got the Gil, consider picking up three Titan Bangles, which is not only a defensive improvement over the Iron Bangle, but it bears two Materia slots, allowing you to diversify your magical arsenal.
Exit the house and head to the next screen, the area transition to which is along the eastern edge of the slums, between the house to the south and the weapon shop. Make use of the Save Point and ignore the nearby house, instead going around it and climbing a ladder. In the southern gardens you’ll find a piece of Cover Materia (the Materia Aeris told you about earlier), and, further east, you’ll find an Ether .
The Cover Materia is your first bit of "independent" (purple) or passive Materia. Equip it in a slot, and you’ll gain whatever effects the Materia bestows. In this case, the Cover Materia gives the character wielding a chance (20% per level) to intercept attacks intended for allies. A good tool for building up the Limit Breaks of characters, as well as having the obvious benefit of protecting weaker characters.
Equip Titan Bangles on both Cloud and Aeris, then ensure that Aeris is properly equipped with Materia. Restore, Lightning, and Cover will suffice. Once done head inside Aeris’s House, where you’ll be introduced to Aeris’s mother (awkward), after which Tifa will come up in conversation. When asked if she’s your girlfriend, say "No way!" like a chump to slightly improve Aeris’s disposition, or say "Yeah, that’s right" to lose a good deal of approval from Aeris (Aeris -5). In any event, Aeris decides to take you to Sector 7, regardless of how much Cloud or her mother protests.
Talk to Aeris’s mother and she’ll make a rather… unusual request of you. Head upstairs and, after a nap (and a dream), Cloud will make good his escape. Grab the bag near the door to score a Potion and a Phoenix Down , then make your way to the stairs. Walk - don’t run - and stay away from the door to Aeris’s room and you should get out without anybody being the wiser.
Road to Sector 6
Leave the area around Aeris’s House and make your way through the Sector 5 Slums to reach the road outside. Once here, head west to find that the hole in the way is no longer blocked by squatters. Convenient, that. You will, however, run into somebody else, who will not be abandoned after all. Well, you tried.
When you reach the next area you’ll find that the road to Sector 6 is… quite a mess. Head up a wooden ramp, then across a perforated metal bridge. Go around the raised section of road and take a pink bit of scaffolding down to reach lower ground before heading through a tunnel opposite the scaffolding. Next, continue north-west around the raised section of road we were on a moment ago and use a brown pipe as a ramp to the north. Finally head down a wooden ramp and exit this area to the north.
The road will lead to a playground, at the gate to which Cloud and Aeris will chat some more. If you pick the dialogue option "Go on to Sector 7" Aeris’s approval will rise a bit (Aeris +1), while picking "Take her home" will do nothing. Talk to Aeris after she wanders off and endure some more banter about Cloud’s past in SOLDIER. Shortly a wagon will show up, bearing a familiar passenger. Aeris will run off, and you’ll have no choice but to follow her north, through an uninteresting transition area, and finally to Sector 6.